Senior project provides warmth for deployed soldiers |

Senior project provides warmth for deployed soldiers

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photoFrom left, top row: Pete Firmin, Grant Stewart, Rob Jones, Katelynn Jones, Jerrod Merriam, Jeff Clymer, Steve Zimmer, Alyssa Stanley and Reagan Stanley; middle row: Sheila and Helen Woodring, Stacy Jones, Claire Helmick, Lauren Quick, Carolyn Turner and Alicia Quick; bottom row: Nicole LaRose, Haydn Holgate, Taryne Jones, Kari Triplett, Kerani Kent and Natalya Helmick.

Something as simple as a thank you, can be a warm blanket for a U.S. serviceman/woman serving overseas during the holidays.

Katelynn Jones knows that even the smallest gesture can carry with it an enormous meaning, as long as it’s sincere.

That is why the Rifle High School senior wanted to do something for the U.S. military troops serving overseas this holiday season, just to say thanks for their service.

“I wanted to give back to them because they give so much,” Jones, 18, said.

After a conversation with her RHS teacher advisor, Kari Triplett, regarding a project that sends handmade blankets to soldiers overseas for holiday gifts, Jones decided that was the project that she was going to be involved in for her senior seminar project.

“[Triplett] wanted to do this at her house as a small get-together,” Jones said. “She was telling me about it, and she thought that it would be a great idea if I were to turn this into a bigger project.”

Since she has family members who are veterans themselves, and knows several people who have spouses or loved ones currently in the military, Jones did some research online and she decided to take on the project to show her gratitude.

“I found that it was a really cool project,” Jones said.

Each senior at RHS is required to do a 20-hour community service project in order to graduate. Jones thought that this project was a good fit.

“I can’t imagine going through a holiday without my family,” Jones said. “And they are over there fighting for us, away from their families.”

The project is called Blankets of Belief, a program run by the nonprofit organization called Soldiers’ Angels, whose mission is to provide aid and comfort to military servicemen/women and their families.

The nonprofit was started by Patti Patton-Bader, a mother of two American Soldiers, according to the organization’s website, The international organization has members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and other countries around the globe who support America’s military.

The organization has been around since 2003 and through its volunteers, like Jones, has sent tens of thousands of care packages and hundreds of thousands of letters to deployed service members.

Jones started collecting donations in August. She received enough money to purchase fleece material to make 40 blankets. On Oct. 30, she and 22 friends and volunteers gathered at the Rifle Fire Protection District Station No. 1, and pitched in to make the blankets by hand.

“I couldn’t have done it without the people who helped me and who donated to the project,” Jones said.

Each of the blankets included a personalized note from the person who made the blanket and a description of Jones’ project.

“That was important to me because they helped me out so much that I wanted their name to be on the blanket,” Jones said.

After all the blankets were wrapped up, tied with a bow, and had a letter attached, they packed up five large boxes and sent them off to Soldiers’ Angels in Texas, who will distribute the blankets to deployed soldiers in time for the holidays.

Giving her time and effort to provide a gift for a soldier – that Jones probably doesn’t even know – is the main reason that she wanted to do this project in the first place. She understands that even the smallest bit of gratitude can go along way.

“I wanted to give them something from home to remind them that even though there are some people that may not believe in the war, we believe in them and what they are doing,” Jones said. “I wanted them to have something to remind them that we do care about them.”

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